May Events in Bologna, Italy…and Beyond

May is probably one of the most lovely months here in Bologna. The weather is warm, walks to San Luca and picnics in Giardini Margherita are more enjoyable, and Piazza Maggiore and the tiny streets of the historic center are teeming with locals and tourists alike sharing spritz, Pignoletto (local white-wine) and taglieri of cured meats and cheeses. The latter also happen to be two of my favorite pastimes in Bologna. And yes, I regard eating and drinking as pastimes.

A blossoming Giardini Margherita

If you are in or around Bologna this month and are wondering what to do, below is a round-up of events and happenings in the city and beyond!

 Food & Wine Events & Tastings:

May 2 – 30 | Mercato della Terra di Bologna

Every Saturday from 9am until 2pm in Piazzetta Pasolini (courtyard of Cinema Lumière) you can taste fresh fish, meat dishes prepared on the spot, organic wine, and local artisanal beer.

Location: Porto districit (Bologna) | Slow Food 328 1396004

May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 | “Vignaioli in Enoteca” 

The winemaker is in! A great way to get to know local winemakers and varieties, and to taste local specialties. Open and free to the public. From 2:30pm to 6pm.

Location: Dozza | Regional wine bar of Emilia Romagna 0542 367700

May 8-10 | Budrio Bier Fest

5th annual beer festival with live music and local food, such as pork shank, wurstel, grilled and roasted meat, and sweets.

Location: Budrio (Province of Bologna)

May 2 -3 | “Il vino è in festa”: Celebrating Wine

Winemakers and local wineries line the main square and streets of this medieval hamlet. Visitors purchase a wine glass at the entrance for tastings.

Location: Dozza | Dozza Foundation 0542 678240

The trend of natural, organic, and biodynamic wines definitely does not seem to going away anytime soon. Markets, festivals, and fairs specific to this category seem to be ever present on the Italian wine scene. That’s why it comes as no surprise that in Bologna there are actually two of these fairs on exactly the same weekend. The more you understand Italian wine, the more you begin to understand just how very varied and divided this world is, and just hoberberew zealous these particular winemakers are.

May 9 & 10 | Gusto Nudo

Gusto Nudo is probably the more extreme of the two shows, as it defines their members as producing wine with the same spirit of heretics and filibusters. Gusto Nudo also has a program for events happening outside the actual fair as some wineries have teamed up with local wine bars and restaurants to present their wines to the general public.

Location: Il Cassero, Via Don Giovanni Minzoni, 18 (in the city center) | For more info Gusto Nudo

fiviMay 10 | Fiera dei Vignaioli Indipendenti

This fair is sponsored by ONAV, The National Organization of Wine Tasters, and offers a more comprehensive list of producers. The winemakers present here are part of the Association of Independent Winemakers, committed to cultivating their own grapes in the most responsible and sustainable ways and being present in every part of the wine-making process, thus producing authentic, quality wines without unnecessary additives.

Location: Relais Bellaria, Via libro del paradiso 1 San Lazzaro (Just outside the city enter) | For more info Vignaioli Indipendenti

* Different wineries and winemakers will be present at each event so take a look at the lists included on the individual websites.

May 9 & 16 | Food Immersion

Two Saturdays of immersion and sensorial education in “art, science and food” for children and families sponsored by Scuola delle Idee.

Location: Bologna center | Piazza Re Enzo 051 19936110

May 15 – 17 & May 22 – 24 | Sagra del Tortellone e Carne Grigliata

Food market celebrating the tortellone and grilled meat. Open everyday night from Friday to Sunday, and Sunday lunch.

Location: Padulle (Sala Bolognese) – Casa Largaiolli, Via Bagno

May 24 | Cantine Aperte

This event is happening across Italy. Wineries open their doors to the public for a sneek peak into their wine making process and a tour of their cellars. For more information on which wineries are participating in Emilia Romagna check-out mtvemiliaromagna.it.

Location: Bologna area Zola Predosa, Casalecchio di Reno, Monte San Pietro, Valsamoggia & all over Italy

201004131956240_Logo_e_scritta_cantine_aperte1

May 30 -31 | Festa dei sapori curiosi

3rd annual event dedicated to lesser known foods. This year the theme is the tagliatella, a pillar of Bolognese cuisine and a fresh hand-made pasta presented with various sauces. (My personal favorite is tagliatella al ragu!)

Location: Casalecchio di Reno (Bologna) | For more info Sapori Curiosi

Art & Culture:

For all you art-lovers and museum-goers don’t forget that all civic and municipal museums, parks, and archeological sites are free the first Sunday of the month. For Bologna this includes, Pinacoteca Nazionale.

And just in case you were wondering what other exhbits were on for 2015 in Italy, check out this great list from Swide.

Until May 17, 2015 | Da Cimabue a Morandi, Felsina Pittrice (Works from Cimabue to Morandi) – I feel as though Bologna tends to be frequently overshadowed by the artistic giant and its just-over-the-mountains neighbor, Florence. This exhibit, however, brings “The Fat, The Red, The Learned” (Bologna’s other name) to the artistic forefront. Displaying art work spanning over seven centuries and featuring over 180 works from both private and public collections, this exhibit is a tribute to the most important moments in Bologna’s art history. For more information, visit Bologna’s museum website. Location: Bologna | Palazzo Fava, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Via Manzoni 2

May 5- 10 | Future Film Festival “Eat the Future”

“Eat the Future” is the theme of the 17th edition of the Future Film Festival, celebrating animation and new technologies in cinema. Given the theme of the Milan Expo, Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, this year’s festival will also explore the theme of food through science-fiction and horror cult-movies.

Location: Cinema Lumière of Cineteca di Bologna | For more info www.futurefilmfestival.org

May 22 – 24 | Diverdeinverde – Open Gardens of Bologna

Discover the city and countryside’s hidden greenery as Bologna opens its private gardens to the public. 10 euro gets you a pass to all the gardens. For more info on where to get a pass and which gardens are open –diverdeinverde.fondazionevillaghigi.it

Location: Bologna

May 16 – 17 | Strabologna

Bologna gets fit with two days of health and wellness education in Piazza Maggiore.

Location: Bologna | For more info Strabologna

May 7 – 10 | Festa della Scienza Medica

Bologna is the birthplace of the first modern School of Medicine and so its only fitting that it plays host to a festival filled with conferences, meetings, and debates to analyze the myriad of issues related to biomedical sciences. Four Nobel Prize winners will be leading and participating in discussions.

Location: Bologna | For more info, click here

*These events will most likely be entirely in Italian.

May 22 – June 7 | Festival del Turismo Responsabile

How we travel is becoming just as important is why and where. The major cities of Emilia Romagna (and Trentino) host two weeks of events, bringing attention to the various issues surrounding tourism, and to promote a more sustainable and responsible way to discover Italy and Emilia Romagna. Events in Bologna include workshops, cultural walking tours, bike tours, and food tours and cooking classes.

Location: Bologna | For more info IT.A.CA

 

Beyond Bologna, In Emilia Romagna:

May 9 – September 20 | Piacere Modena: I Giardini di Gusto e delle Arte

Inspired by Italy’s top Michelin starred chef, Massimo Bottura, the city of Modena plays host to a five month festival celebrating the area’s gastronomy and its DOP and IGP products such as balsamic vinegar, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Lambrusco. It’s Modena in all its food glory.

Location: In and around Modena | For more info #giardinidelgusto

Until July 19 | La Rosa de Foc: Picasso and Gaudí’s Barcelona

Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, located just about 50km north of Bologna and easily reachable by train, hosts this exhibit which tells the story of the fertile yet turbulent time at the turn of 20th century Barcelona, and of the colourful, hot-tempered group of artists that animated them. The inventions of Lluís Domènech and especially Gaudí, the visionary innovator of architecture and interior design, alternate with masterpieces by some of the most important figures in Catalan painting and sculpture.

Location: Ferrara | Palazzo dei Diamanti (for more info)

Happy May!!

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Italian Rituals: Coffee

It’s just around 8:00am and across Italy the same scene is being played out, like every morning before and every morning thereafter. The day begins with those old familiar sounds and smells. The hum of a machine finally settles into the rhythm of the day. Toasted, roasted goodness silently streams into tiny white cups and gathers in dark pools.  Steam gurgles into milk to create white foamy peaks. Tiny silverware chimes against ceramic saucers, lining up in attendance. Few words are exchanged by some, others eagerly chat, and others still leaf through the news, as fresh and bittersweet as their morning coffee.

These are the everyday sounds and smells of Italian life. So common, in fact, that most locals probably don’t even recognize them any more. They are rituals, simple yet finely-tuned dances, that for an outsider can reveal the very stuff of which a culture is made.

Italians take coffee seriously, but not only. They also take their time seriously, especially when that time centers around food or drink. That’s why you’ll never find an Italian zipping around with coffee in hand. It’s honestly unfathomable for them to think that one cannot spare even a few minutes to savor a coffee. Those few minutes are precious. They are an opportunity to exchange a few words with familiar faces or to silently ponder the day ahead. But regardless of who you speak with or how you take your coffee, those moments stir up a sense of community, of belonging within that is difficult to come by these days.  Not to mention that everyone could use a bit of a respite to just, well, breathe and be. Because in that moment of anticipation, while your standing at the counter waiting for a shot of the good stuff, there is a moment of calm. You can’t do anything else but wait. Life for a moment is pushed aside. Worries are swirling around you but you are still. Unmoved. If only for a moment life seems as thought it is in slow motion. Only to speed up again once the final drop hits your tongue.

Italian-food-best- coffee swide.comThis articles was originally posted on the Cavavaplus Travel blog. To continue reading  click here.

April Events in Bologna, Italy…and Beyond

Can you feel it? Spring seems to finally be here (at least I hope)! With April now in full swing, sunny days, full piazzas, long passeggiate (walks) and lots of outdoor dining can be expected and enjoyed. Let’s hope the weather cooperates and those April showers remain at bay, since there are some interesting events happening in and around Bologna. Below are a few that I’ve rounded up. Suggestions and additions are welcomed.

 Food & Wine Events

April 4, 11, 18, & 25 | Mercato della Terra di Bologna

Every Saturday from 9am until 2pm in Piazzetta Pasolini (courtyard of Cinema Lumière) you can taste fresh fish, meat dishes prepared on the spot, organic wine, and local artisanal beer.

Location: Porto districit (Bologna) | Slow Food 328 1396004

 

April 4, 11, & 18 | “Vignaioli in Enoteca”

The winemaker is in! A great way to get to know local winemakers and varieties, and to taste local specialties. Open and free to the public. From 2:30pm to 6pm.

Location: Dozza | Regional wine bar of Emilia Romagna 0542 367700

 

April 6, 12, 19, & 26 (and May 3)

Themed tastings paired with regional gastronomic delicacies led by a sommelier. Wines include – Malbo Gentile April 6, Lambrusco and Bosco Eliceo April 12, Chardonnay on April 19, Sauvignon on April 26, Albana on May 3. Tasting of 3 wines 6 euro + small plate 2 euro. From 2:30pm to 6:30pm.

Location: Dozza | Regional wine bar of Emilia Romagna 0542 367700

 

April 10 – 12 | Very Slow Italy, Festa della Primavera delle Cittaslow

This exhibition and market, now in it’s 10th year, showcases food, wine, and handicrafts typical of Citta’ Slow d’Italia (or Slow Towns of Italy, think Slow Food movement). The event takes place just outside of Bologna in Castel San Pietro Terma, reachable by bus or train from the center of Bologna. The two days are quite packed with activities and one event in particular seems quite interesting, that is if you’re like me and are interested in delving into the culture of a local area through wine. The event, Very Wine, gives visitors the opportunity to visit and explore local wines by offering guided visits of selected wineries led by sommeliers. For more information on the two-day program, click here.

Location: Castel San Pietro Terme | Ufficio Turismo 051 6954112

 

April 10-12 | Voluptates

The town of Imola, located about 40km outside of Bologna, plays host to the 12th edition of this wine tasting event, held in the historic center at Il Museo di San Domenico. The event is dedicated to the great wines of Italy, France and other regions of Europe with such prestigious labels as Yquem a Taittinger, Dom Perignon, Vega Sicilia, Gaja, Dal Forno, and Sassicaia being poured and accompanied by local gastronomic products. Entrance is 15 euros for a tasting of up to 5 wines, with additional tastings running from 1 to 12 euors, depending on the rarity and prestige of the wine. For more information visit the Voluptates website.

Location: Imola | Museo San Domenico 0542 602609

Voluptates 2015

Voluptates 2015

April 19 | Festival of the Soup

Here in Italy they have feasts and festivals for every kind of food imaginable. Soup is no different, and frankly in my opinion, doesn’t get enough praise. Thankfully, there is this event. Now in its 10th year participants from all over the world take part in this fun-filled soup competition. From 3pm until evening in the Pilastro area of Bologna (Via Salgari). To register to be a participant, check out this link.

Location: Bologna | Associazione culturale Oltre 051 6390743

Festival della Zuppa 2015

Festival della Zuppa 2015

Art & Culture

For all you art-lovers and museum-goers, there is good news that you may not have yet heard about – All civic and municipal museums, parks, and archeological sites are free the first Sunday of the month. While it may not be applicable to the month of April (given the first Sunday of the month has passed), it’s something to note going forward.

Civic Museums of Bologna include:

Pinacoteca Nazionale Bologna BO 14.00 – 19.00 14.00 – 19.00
Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna in Palazzo Pepoli Campogrande Bologna BO 9.00 – 13.30 9.00 – 13.30

Here’s a list of what’s open all across Italy – #DomenicalMuseo

Both of the exhibits I wrote about last month in March events in Bologna and Beyond are still on for this month so check those out.

Bologna has done a great job of rebranding recently and is really pushing springtime events in art, culture, and music. The Bologna Welcome website gives a thorough run down of all the happenings in these areas for this month. Check it out here – Springtime is Bologna

Springtime is Bologna

Springtime is Bologna

April 21 – 26 | Live Arts Week IV

A unique week-long event dedicated to the live arts, including live performances, and sound and lighting installations, taking place at MAMbo (Museum of Modern Art in Bologna) and Ex Opsedale dei Bastardini.

Location: Bologna | More details here.

 

April 19 until July 19 | La Rosa de Foc: Picasso and Gaudí’s Barcelona

Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, located just about 50km north of Bologna and easily reachable by train, hosts this exhibit which tells the story of the fertile yet turbulent time at the turn of 20th century Barcelona, and of the colourful, hot-tempered group of artists that animated them. The inventions of Lluís Domènech and especially Gaudí, the visionary innovator of architecture and interior design, alternate with masterpieces by some of the most important figures in Catalan painting and sculpture.

Location: Ferrara | Palazzo dei Diamanti (for more info)

Hermen Anglada Camarasa Il pavone bianco, 1904

One of the paintings on display:
Hermen Anglada Camarasa
Il pavone bianco, 1904

 

Digital Events

April 19 | Bologna Photo Marathonphotomarathonflyer-frontbolognapmrev3

Nine hours to showcase the culture and beauty of Bologna through photos on nine given topics. That’s the aim of this photographic initiative, open to citizens, tourists, and photo lovers alike. A jury composed of professional photographers, sponsor representatives and local boards will then select winners who will be invited to a final award ceremony.

Location: Bologna | More details here.

 

April 19 – May 3 | #InvasioniDigitali

Invasioni Digitali, or Digital Invasions, began as a grassroots movement two years ago to promote Italy’s cultural and artistic patrimony. The idea is for people to descend on museums and cultural heritage spots in “mobs” and share their experience via blogs and social media. The initiative is meant to transform cultural heritage into something that’s “open, welcoming, and innovative.” Digital invasions are taking place all over Italy between this period. Click here to get involved and for locations in Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, and in other cultural hubs.

Location: Italy | #InvasioniDigitali

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**Just a note: April 25th is Liberation Day here in Italy. It falls on a Saturday and you can be sure Italians will be taking an extra day or two of vacation and making a long weekend of it. If you’re looking for ideas on where to go and what to visit in Bologna and beyond for a holiday weekend, check back here on the blog where I’ll be writing about some nearby towns that are worth a visit.

March Events in Bologna…and Beyond

Even though I have been living in Italy for a few years already (can’t believe it…time is flying!) and have been to my fair share of wine tastings, food festivals, cultural events, farmers markets, and all that good stuff that Italy is known for, I still get excited to see what’s being organized every month in the wide world of Italian food and wine (and not only!). In fact, I would probably be happiest driving up and down the boot discovering new places, little and unknown, sipping and tasting, learning about typical products and the local history and traditions that make them unique.

Below are a few of the events that I came across that seem interesting, and that you might find interesting as well. Since I live in Bologna, I of course look for events within or around the city, or for events that can be easily reached.

Suggestions and additions are welcomed.

Food & Wine Events & Markets:

March 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29 – “Wine of the day” tasting paired with regional gastronomic delicacies led by a sommelier. International varieties and local grape varieties will be tasted, such as Gutturnio, Centesimino, Burson, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Malvasia, Pignoletto, Ortrugo. Tasting of 3 wines 6 euro + small plate 2 euro. Location: Dozza | Regional wine bar of Emilia Romagna 0542 367700

March 7, 14, 21, 28 – “Vignaioli in Enoteca” The winemaker is in! A great way to get to know local winemakers and varieties, and to taste local specialties. Open and free to the public. From 2:30pm to 6pm. Location: Dozza | Regional wine bar of Emilia Romagna 0542 367700

Here I mention Dozza twice and for good reason; I haven’t yet made it there but it is on my list of places to see. Dozza is a medieval village to the southeast of Bologna and has been named one of Italy’s “Most Beautiful Villages”. Dozza is located on a hilltop and offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. This Romagna village is really a unique place as murals painted by internationally-known artists adorn the ancient facades of the historic center. The regional win bar is also a must see. Housed in the cellar of the Sforza Castle in the center of Dozza, the Enoteca displays over 1000 wine labels to choose from with sommeliers offering guided tastings and pairings.

Murals of Dozza (photo:www.primaveraviaggi.com)

Murals of Dozza (photo:www.primaveraviaggi.com)

Since living in Italy, I don’t really shop for fruits and vegetables at supermarkets anymore. Instead I opt for buying fresh produce at the central Mercato delle Erbe located just a few steps away from Piazza Maggiore on Via Ugo Bassi.

Mercato delle Erbe, Bologna (photo: thefoodiefighter.wordpress.com)

Mercato delle Erbe, Bologna (photo: thefoodiefighter.wordpress.com)

There are also quite a few farmers markets to choose from around the city and you can find one almost everyday of the week in a different, yet centrally, located area.

Here’s the run down:

March 5, 12, 19, 26 Organic local food market every Thursday from 5pm to 8:30pm in via Fioravanti 24. Location: Navile district(Bologna) |Campi Aperti 347 4083255

March 4, 11, 18, 25 From producer to consumer: fruit, vegetables, dairy products, bread, rice, cured meats, honey, wine, flowers. Every Wednesday from 3:30pm to 7pm, Via Segantini. Location: Reno district (Bologna) |Produttori Agricoli 329 4511263

March 6, 13, 20, 27 Fresh produce market (Mercato di Campagna Amica) every Friday from 8:30am to 12:30pm, Piazza XX Settembre (near Porta Galliera). Location: Porto district (Bologna) | Coldiretti Bologna 051 6388648

March 7, 14, 21, 28 Fresh produce market (Mercato di Campagna Amica) every Saturday from 8am to 12:30pm, Via Cristoforo Colombo (in the business park). Location: Navile district (Bologna) | Coldiretti Bologna 051 6388648

March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 Local farmer’s market with fresh and seasonal product (Mercato di Campagna Amica) every Tuesday from 4pm to 8pm, Piazzetta Don Gavinelli, in front of Chiesa del Sacro Cuore. Location: Navile district (Bologna) | Coldiretti Bologna 051 6388648

March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 Fresh produce market (Mercato di Campagna Amica) every Tuesday from 4pm to 8pm, Via Po, 10 (parking lot Gardencap). Location: Savena district (Bologna) | Coldiretti Bologna 051 6388648

March 4, 11, 18, 25 Fresh produce market (Mercato di Campagna Amica) every Wednesday from 2:30pm to 6:30pm, Via del Gomito 30 in the square behind Villa Due Torri. Location: Navile distrivt (Bologna) | Coldiretti Bologna 051 6388648

*This next one is especially good!

Every Saturday Local and seasonal fruit and vegetables, cheese, cured meats without preservatives, wines produced only from local varieties, artisanal beer, flowers, fresh fish and meat, honey, eggs, bread made from mother yeast, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, olive oil from Imola. 9am to 2pm in Piazza Pasolini (in the courtyard of Lumiere Cinema). Tables available for tastings. Location: Porto district (Bologna) | Slow Food 328 1396004

March 6 & 7 – Romagna Wine Festival – Cesena, a small city located to east of Bologna quite close to the Adriatic coast, hosts the third annual Romagna Wine Festival. The festival features, of course, food and wine tastings, open markets, and the on-going battle of Tuscan Sangiovese vs Romagna Sangiovese. This would make for a great little day trip this weekend! More information can be found on the Emilia Romagna tourism website. Location: Cesena historic center and around town

Art & Culture:

Until May 17, 2015 – Da Cimabue a Morandi, Felsina Pittrice (Works from Cimabue to Morandi) – I feel as though Bologna tends to be frequently overshadowed by the artistic giant and its just-over-the-mountains neighbor, Florence. This exhibit, however, brings “The Fat, The Red, The Learned” (Bologna’s other name) to the artistic forefront. Displaying art work spanning over seven centuries and featuring over 180 works from both private and public collections, this exhibit is a tribute to the most important moments in Bologna’s art history. For more information, visit Bologna’s museum website. Location: Bologna | Palazzo Fava, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Via Manzoni 2

Until April 19, 2015 – Il viaggio oltre la vita. Gli Etruschi e l’aldilà tra capolavori e realtà virtuale. (Voyage to the Afterlife. The Etruscans and The Beyond through Masterpieces and Virtual Reality) – The Etruscans were an ancient people that populated much of what is today central Italy (and a bit north and south as well), and whose history is still quite unknown. This exhibit delves into their world by bringing to light, through rich imagery, objects, ceramics, and sculptures, their thoughts and beliefs on the afterlife. Especially interesting is the installation Sarcophagus of the Spouses, (there are only two in the world, one in the National Etruscan Museum in Rome and one in the Louvre) which virtually reconstructs the tomb and illustrates the Etruscan’s story using hologram technology. For more information, visit Bologna’s museum website. Location: Bologna | Palazzo Pepoli, Museo della Storia di Bologna

 

Outside Emilia-Romagna

March 7 – 9 – TASTE Florence – Passionate foodies and Florence lovers rejoice, TASTE is again for its 10th year and continues to be bigger and better. This fair celebrates all that is good and tasty in world of Italian food, featuring hundreds of producers from across Italy displaying their specialities. There are over 150 events in and around Florence, called FuoridiTaste, organized by restaurants, bistrots, cooking schools, hotels, and boutiques, that complement the fair and offer special tastings, menus, and classes. Visit the site for more info. Location: Florence | Stazione Leopolda, and in and around Florence

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Sangiovese & English

What hasn’t been written about the Sangiovese grape. A simple google search will show you that everyone who has something to say about wine has written at least once about the topic.

I originally wasn’t going to write this blog post for this very reason; there is so much information out there what could I possibly add.

However, just this past week I held my monthly wine tasting for my Italian students….Italian students learning English that is. Essentially, it’s an English language class masked as a wine tasting, or perhaps it’s the other way around. Regardless, I get to talk about wine for a hour and half to Italians in a language they don’t really understand yet about a subject that is in itself difficult to understand. Chaos and amusement ensue to say the least. In any case, the students enjoy themselves and I get to practice using my wine knowledge; the wine flows and everyone is happy.

I usually prepare a short reading then quiz for the students so that they can practice reading and learn some new vocabulary before I explain the wines we taste. Below is the reading, which is really only helpful to those who are just starting out on their wine journey. We are at the beginnings, people, of both wine and the English language, but nothing wrong with that because it’s met with genuine enthusiasm and curiosity. And, let’s not kid ourselves, thirst as well.

My students also love the fact that I taught them the 4 S’s of wine tasting, which sadly I did not come up with. I must give credit where credit is due; the 4 S’s come from The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide. I had to give them something simple, fun and easy to remember, and remember they did.

4 S’s of wine tasting –

See – Vedere; Osservare

Swirl – Roteare; Vorticare

Smell – Annusare

Sip – Sorseggiare; Assagiare

Other vocabulary that emerged from this lesson –

Bunch – Grappolo

Tannin – Tannino

Ripening – Maturazione

Harvest – Vendemmia; Vendemmiare

Barrel / cask – Botte

Clone – Clone; Varieta’

Sour – Aspro

Cherry – Ciliegia

Savory – Non dolce; Salato

Cheers! – Cincin; Salute

ALL ABOUT SANGIOVESE

Sangiovese is Italy’s number one grape variety and although it is cultivated in several Italian regions, such as Umbria, Emilia-Romagna and Campania, it flourishes best in the sun-filled, dry Tuscan hills. Some of the greatest expressions of Sangiovese are from Tuscany, and so it is no wonder that this grape variety is predominantly associated with this region.

Sangiovese Vines in Chianti (photo: www.felsina.it)

History of Sangiovese

Even after much research, the origins of Sangiovese are quite difficult to understand. It is claimed that the famous grape was already well-known more than 2000 years ago when the Etruscans used it to produce wine. Even the origins of the name are uncertain and there are numerous versions of the story. There are those who claim the name comes from “San Giovanni”, others who say it comes from “uva sangiovannina” which refers to its precocious ripening, and still others who swear it comes from “Sanguis Jovis”, the “blood of Jove” in Latin.

The Sangiovese Grape

The antiquity of Sangiovese is demonstrated by the numerous varieties of this grape and there are varying statements as to how many clones actually exist. This means that over the centuries variations of Sangiovese have adapted to very different territories.

Sangiovese Grapes (photo: vini-cantine.lifeandtravel.com)

There are two distinct types of Sangiovese, the Sangiovese Grosso and the Sangiovese Piccolo. Both are widely used in the most famous Tuscan red wines such as Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino (variety “Brunello”), Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (variety “Prugnolo Gentile”) and Morellino di Scansano (variety “Morellino”).

The Sangiovese Profile

The Sangiovese grape is a delicate, thin-skinned grape that takes time to mature and is usually harvested in late autumn. The profile and characteristics noticeably vary according to the clone, climate, altitude, and overall territory of production. Some clones that have good success in an area of Tuscany do not produce good fruit in another, even though the areas might not be that distant.

The color is generally not very saturated and can range from ruby red to garnet in young or medium-aged wines, while taking on shades of orange after long aging. Good Sangiovese wines generally have a medium body with a good balance of acidity and tannins.

Sangiovese’s aromas are primarily oriented to red and black fruits, especially sour cherry, black cherry, blackberry and plum. While violet is its most characteristic floreal aroma, rose comes in second. Among these, the combination that characterizes Sangiovese the most is black cherry and violet but it can also exhibit bitter notes as well as tomato, oregano, and tobacco.

Sangiovese wines can age well and are frequently aged in small wooden barrels and casks. This means that aged wines might show spicy aromas of vanilla and licorice, as well as toasted notes of coffee and chocolate. Aged Sangiovese wines have a more earthy or rustic aroma and the intensity of these aromas depends, as always, on the producer’s use of casks or barrels.

Sangiovese Food Pairing

Sangiovese wines can pair with a wide range of foods because of its medium body and savory character. First dishes with a tomato base are great with a younger Sangiovese wine. Meanwhile, an aged Sangiovese wine pairs well with medium to high fatty dishes such as a filet, steak, or lamb and the high tannins in the wine complement a roast, cured sausage or hard cheese.

Cheers!

30 days to 33 or Living Gratitude

Today is November 1 and thus marks the beginning of my birthday month. This year I will be turning 33 (on November 30) and will have just celebrated my 3 year anniversary of being in Italy. Three seems to be the number.

This year has been quite strange by many aspects. While nothing major has occurred, several small and seemingly insignificant happenings are leading to some big shifts within. It has been a year of many doubts, many choices, and many reflections. I’m still trying to process all of these internal changes; some are apparent (to me) and others I believe are happening deep inside, on a level which I have yet to comprehend.

I haven’t decided what “gift” I will give to myself this year, perhaps a weekend getaway to some undiscovered part of Italy, a meal at my favorite Michelin-starred chef’s restaurant, or those pair of heels that I have been drooling over ever since I laid eyes on them. And while any of these “gifts” would be wonderful, they pale in comparison to the real gift I have decided to give myself…the gift of gratitude. Now don’t mistake me, it’s not that I’m not grateful for what I have but, when I’m going through an internal crisis or am feeling anxious or depressed, I tend to forget all those good things present around me and within me. By dedicating this month to gratitude and focusing everyday on the beauty in my life, I’m hoping that when those dark times do come around they won’t be so dark after all. When we choose to focus on the good in our lives, on what we have instead of what we lack, that goodness expands ten-fold. So I’m choosing only the good. And the Universe, timely as ever, agrees as I stumbled across this quote today…

.When you are grateful fear disappears & abundance appears

You can follow my #30daysto33 on Instagram (_antoniarosa) or Twitter (@antoniacaserta).

Autumn in Italy…Truffles

Growing up in New England autumn for me became synonymous with carving pumpkins, apple picking, the warming sun and low hanging gray skies, and the crunch of golden yellow, deep ruby, and tawny orange foliage under my feet. The later is one of the few things I miss most about living in Connecticut.

Now that I live in Italy, for me autumn calls to mind the aroma of roasting chestnuts, the musty damp smell of cellars as grapes ferment into wine, and the earthy aroma of truffles.  The seasonal imagery and sensations are very different here. Given that food is such a large part of the culture and that Italy has so many gastronomic delicacies, towns and villages up and down the boot celebrate local seasonal specialties with food festivals. This is one of things I love most about living in Italy.

Last weekend I attended Tartufesta, a festival honoring the most supreme of Italian delicacies – the tartufo, or truffle. The festival is free for the public and takes place in the town of Sasso Marconi, about 20 minutes outside of Bologna and easily reachable by train. It was wonderful to be able to spend a relaxing afternoon in the countryside (something that unfortunately I don’t get to do very often) nibbling and tasting my way through the market.

Just a little snack before the truffles

Just a little snack before the truffles

 Tartufesta happens every year and focuses on the “white truffle of the Bologna hills”, although there are a few producers from other regions of Italy, such as Tuscany and even as far as Calabria and Sardinia. Producers proudly display their truffles, oddly shaped black and white spheres, which seem unassuming to the naked eye. As you move closer to take a sniff, however, you realize that this is not just any mushroom. I have written in the past about truffles because I do love their earthy, musky and often times pungent aroma, but it is something that one might have to become accustomed to.  Truffles come with a hefty price-tag as well as they are sold by the gram with white truffles generally being regarded as superior, and thus more expensive than the black ones.

Truffles for days

Truffles for days!

Truffles can be included in many dishes but its aromas and flavors are best exalted, in my humble opinion, when freshly shaved on tagliatelle (egg noddle pasta).

Tagliatelle with shaved truffles

Tagliatelle with shaved truffles

 

While the truffle is the definite star of Tartufesta, there are also other eno-gastronomic treats to tantalize your tastebuds. Cheeses, cured meats, breads, jams and marmelades, honey, olive oil, roasted chestnuts, sweets, and who can forget wine are all there for the tasting. Producers invite you to sample their product and are eager to explain why it is the best. Many of the cured meats, cheeses, and spreadable truffle sauces or truffle oils can be sampled for free, while a glass of wine costs a mere 1euro. In addition to food and wine the festival also features stands with lovely handicrafts.

Taralli (typical speciality of the  Puglia region) at Tartufesta

Taralli and olives (typical specialities of the Puglia region) at Tartufesta

 

Cheese

Cheese, please!

Autumn colors mirrored in seasonal jams and marmelades

Autumn colors mirrored in seasonal jams and marmelades

If your appetite is not curbed with the tastings and you’re hungry for more, in the centrally located piazza two agritourisms, L’Isola del Gusto and Il Tartufaio, have set-up a restaurant of sorts where you can grab a table and feast on truffle dishes and other typical delicacies from the Apennine area of Emilia Romagna.

Italy is strewn with so many wonderful ly hidden and yet often times overlooked corners. Discovering them by indulging your senses in gastronomic traditions is just one of the many ways to open yourself up to the wonders of the country and get off the beaten path.

There is one last weekend to enjoy Tartufesta – November 1 and 2. For more information please visit their website Tartufesta or the official webpage of the Emilia Romagna tourism board. For train times to and from Sasso Marconi, please visit the Trenitalia webpage.

Vinitaly: A Simple Guide to Navigating the Madness

The 48th edition of Vinitaly is just a couple of days away, and this marks the third year I will be attending. As many of you know, Vinitaly is the yearly event for the wine sector and this year it runs from April 6 -9. These last few weeks I have been strategizing on my plan of attack. If you have ever been to Vinitaly, or any other international and supremely important show, you know planning is essential to surviving. Personally, if I don’t have a plan going in, I get overwhelmed easily, too easily, and lose myself quickly. Vinitaly_The World We Love

Space-wise Vinitaly is enormous. Taking place very year in Verona Fiera, the show covers 16+ different halls and each year boasts thousands upon thousands of exhibitors, both wineries and companies operating in the wine industry. Just last year there were over 4000 exhibitors and close to 150,000 visitors. If you are looking to make any strides at Vinitaly, whether professionally or just for your own personal benefit, you must give some thought as to how you will approach the event. Planning and action is in essence what moves a person from thinking (or day-dreaming) about something to actually accomplishing it. The same goes for attending such an event.

Firstly, let’s establish one thing. It is absolutely impossible to see and do everything at Vinitaly, even if you are there over the whole of four days, which I don’t recommend unless you are part of the trade and even then it’s quite a lot. You must pick and choose, divide and conquer. If you’re going for professional reasons you probably already have your list of contacts and meetings set-up. However, if you are going there to learn a bit more and taste some great wine without the hassle of traveling all over the boot, then you’ll probably want to take a look at the website www.vinitaly.com. There you’ll find the list of exhibitors (but just reading through it is a job in and of itself!), map of the event (with some new additions for this year), a daily calendar of conferences, tastings, and workshops, and any special shows that are occurring simultaneously.

The first year I began my planning by sifting through the list of exhibitors, which was honestly a big mistake. I find the list is only helpful if you need to locate the exact stand of a producer, or if you want to just quickly scan the exhibitors to see if a name jumps out at you. If you’re not at least familiar with wineries in a specific region then it merely becomes an exercise in scrolling through pages of names. This year the list is more visually appealing and easier to navigate. It’s also helpful that the producer’s website and wines produced are included in the list.

Taking a look at the calendar of conferences and tastings to see what has been organized is a good way to delve into Vinitaly.  Some of the events are free or low-cost and there is variety in terms of wines being tasted and topics being addressed, such as organic or biodynamic wines, trends in wine production and consumption, and emerging markets. Some of the conferences sell out quickly so just bear in mind that it’s best to book in advance so you don’t miss out.

Many people that are in to Italian wine have preferred regions or varietals. Vinitaly is divided by the regions of Italy with most regions having their own dedicated space. This makes the whole event easier to navigate. It’s no surprise that some of the biggest regions are Tuscany, Veneto, Marche, Piedmont, Sicily, and Puglia and therefore have the most dedicated space. Some of the smaller production regions, Calabria, Sardinia, and Umbria, for example, are grouped together with a few other smaller regions. If you have a specific region or local varietal that you would like to learn more about, it’s probably best to start by taking a look at those halls first. If you follow wine blogs or wine writers see what they recommend for those regions or varietals and then try to seek out those producers. Producers like inquisitive visitors and are willing to explain a bit about their wines and wine-making process. Some producers will also present a new label or showcase a new vintage, giving visitors the added bonus of getting a first-hand look at how the winery is evolving.

Although Vinitaly can be a bit intimidating and overwhelming, wine is meant to be fun and enjoyable. A little planning should help ease any anxiety that comes with attending such a massive event. Also don’t forget to leave some time for wandering, you can discover great wines by just following your instinct.

And most importantly, make sure to use those spit buckets (kinda gross, I know). Otherwise, I highly doubt you’ll make it to lunch without a little stumbling.

Happy Birthday….With Love, Tuscany

My birthday this year was exceptionally simple, exceptionally memorable and exactly what I needed and wanted. My birthday is November 30 and I love that my birthday is in November. This has nothing to do with anything, I realize this. I also realize that it is now March and that I’m about to write about birthday festivities that happened four months ago. (Bear with me here.)

Since I was at that time living in a secluded gem of a place, Fonterutoli, in the heart of Chianti Classico, my birthday wish was simple: Gallivant through Tuscany on a food, wine, and travel adventure that would make a wanderlusting-glutton jealous. With of course my trusty side-kick, my sister, by my side, I honestly could not have imagined anything better.

November might not seem like a great time to visit Tuscany. The harvest season has come and gone. The fields are barren. The days are short and often gray and heavy. The November sun is low and the fog is dense and abundant, especially in the early morning hours. But there is something quite beautiful in this too. To me, this region is glorious any time of year.  I know it seems cliché, an American who loves Tuscany, but for me there is something more at work here. There is something about the landscape, which makes me feel expansive and vast yet tiny and insignificant at the same time. It is my soul moving in time with the universe. When standing upon Tuscany’s hilltops the land ripples out from my feet, spreading out before me, creating dips and peaks, basins and mounds with villages and secrets tucked gently in its folds. The horizon is far and wide and I squint hard in hopes of understanding where it finally meets the earth or rather imagining where it leads, far behind the mountains.

As we set out on our afternoon drive, the warm November sun guided us as we drove from Castellina in Chianti down through Siena and eastward towards Cortona. Much has been written about Cortona, I know, and it even served as the backdrop to Francis Mayes book, Under the Tuscan Sun. Of course I had seen the movie, several times actually, but was still curious about this tiny town. As we zipped along, the weather was perfect. We were excited and discussed one of the most important aspects of the day, food. However, as we eagerly chatted, our destination drawing closer, the weather suddenly turned. The sun disappeared rather abruptly and instantaneously we were immersed in a dense fog.  The change was so immediate that I distinctly remember thinking it seemed as though a line had been drawn, a clear demarcation between blue skies and sun on one side and a grey mess on the other. My mood also completely shifted. I was thoroughly irritated. We wouldn’t be able to enjoy anything now. All I had wanted on my birthday was a nice afternoon, filled with small discoveries, quiet strolls and hidden places. When we set out I hadn’t thought about the possibility of the weather being so radically different an hour and a half away. I was annoyed that I hadn’t planned better, that we didn’t leave earlier. I had wanted it to be so perfect and now everything was ruined. I even entertained the idea of turning back but we had already come this far and I really wanted to experience a new place on my birthday. So we decided to continue on, slowly making our way through the flat, low plain before beginning our ascent to Cortona.

Cortona, situated on the border of Tuscany and Umbria, is perched quite high upon a hill with a wide and long valley just below it, and hills and mountains fanning out behind it. I actually was not aware of just how high up it was until we began zigzagging to the top.  Almost as quickly as it had blanketed us, so did the dense fog begin to thin out and lift. Forms began to immerge. Country houses and olive trees became distinguishable. Rays of sun pierced through the clouds, cracking their heaviness and breaking them open. Everything shifted once again, including my mood. As we continued, the sun shone stronger and the hazy sky turned brighter. In that moment, I realized that it was not actually the weather that was changing but our ascent, our moving through the unwanted to reach to the destination, which was causing the change. The valley had provided us with a vastly different experience. It was as opposite as night and day. Reaching the top, light completely surrounded us and Cortona welcomed us.

Now on foot, we made our way uphill past the old city walls, walking along the quiet cobblestone streets, enjoying the medieval architecture and admiring the quaintness. One of the most appealing aspects of Tuscany in the late fall and winter is scarcity of tourists. It’s as if you have it all to yourself. Albeit sunny, the November afternoon mixed with the labyrinth of tight streets created blustery wind tunnels. We needed something warm that would sustain us during the next few hours of aimless wandering and enjoyment. We ducked into one of the first bars off the main square, Piazza della Repubblica, for a caffe, emerging after a few minutes energized. We continued on towards Piazza Garibaldi, which looks over the entire Valdichiana, or Chiana Valley.  What came next was by far the highlight of my weekend, and something that I could have never planned nor could I have foreseen as we were driving through the fog earlier on. In place of the patchwork of fields that one might expect to find, stretched out far before us was a sea of impenetrable white, completely enveloping the valley below. Cortona seemed suspended above this dense, white fluffiness, but at the same time as if it had risen out of it.  Only the occasional distant mountain peak punctured the cloudy cloak. Perhaps a completely clear day would have made for a better view for some but this view, exactly the way it was, was something breathtaking. That very moment made my entire weekend. The way everything had come together, in a way I could not have planned or imagined, to form a most perfect moment. That was my gift on my birthday. Cortona did not disappoint.

Cortona, Tuscany

Mystical and unexpected – Cortona – Tuscany – Italy

 

 

Cortona, Tuscany, Italy

Sun salutations – Cortona – Tuscany – Italy

We let our gaze wander, marveling at the clarity of the day from the hilltop, basking in the bright fall sun, and breathing in crisp, clean air. The next few hours were spent exploring Cortona, taking pictures, ducking in churches and small shops, and curiously following those streets that called to us more than others. As the sun fell and temperatures dropped, we headed towards one of the many enoteche in the village for an aperitivo, two glasses of local red wine and Tuscan crostini, perfect together before dinner.

We found our dinner spot, Locanda al Pozzo Antico, by chance. Walking past, I peaked inside and immediately had a good feeling. I quickly scanned the menu. This was it. Being a Saturday night, we were lucky they had a table for two. The tables are few but the atmosphere is warm and inviting, rustic yet elegant, like Cortona. The crackling of the stone fireplace, the kindness of the family who owns and runs the restaurant,  and the simple, traditional and local Tuscan cuisine made this restaurant, which is more like a trattoria or osteria, feel familiar. With great enthusiasm and pleasure, we feasted that evening on pappardelle con cinghiale, ribollita, two secondi of roasted meat and a bottle of local red wine. The pasta is hand-made, the meat is sourced locally, and the food is authentic and prepared with care. Of course, it being my birthday, I could not do without dessert and a digestivo, a definite must after any large meal in Italy! For me it was a perfect culinary ending to a most perfect day.

Doesn't get much happier than this - Cortona, Tuscany (Italy)

Doesn’t get much happier than this! – Cortona, Tuscany (Italy)

This experience was worth more to me than any other “thing” I could have received. As I learn to make the small things the big things, I seem to be discovering more joy in my life. I am fortunate that I get to discover this, and other transformational realizations, in Italy, a country where there is no shortage of beauty that comes by way of simplicity.

How to reach Cortona:

By car, train, plane or bus

Where to eat in Cortona:

Locanda di Pozzo Antico

Via Ghini, 14 – Cortona (Ar)

Tel. 0575 62091 – 0575 601577

www.cortonastorica.com

info@cortonastorica.com

Reservations are recommended. I should also mention there is a B&B located next to the restaurant which is run by the same family.